A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of volunteering for Pastry Chef Sherry Yard during The American Wine & Food Festival, a yearly event hosted by Wolfgang Puck which helps raise funds to support the Los Angeles Chapter of Meals on Wheels.
All of Chef Sherry’s volunteers were paired off and each pair was assigned to assist one of the featured pastry chefs.
Pastry Chefs featured in Sherry Yard’s Sweet Sanctuary:
Dominique Ansel – Daniel – New York, New York
Sally Camacho – WP24 @ The Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles, CA
Patrick Fahy – Blackbird – Chicago, IL
Nicole Plue – Redd, Napa Valley, CA
Francois Payard, Payard, New York, NY
Yigit Purat, Taste Catering, San Francisco, CA
Ben Spungin, Marinus @ Bernardis Lodge, Carmel Valley, CA
Suki and I were assigned to assist Pastry Chef Patrick Fahy with the plating of his featured dessert, an amazing Panna Cotta made with Kentucky Bourbon Barrel, Candied Pine Nuts, and Caramelized Macoun Apples. We probably plated 7 or 8 full sheet trays worth of these babies!
This was a huge hit during the event, I felt it was the perfect candidate for me to attempt to recreate with step-by-step photos for you.
Note: I had to make a couple of substitutions here and there because I wasn’t able to locate the original ingredients, I’ll point those out as we move along.
Let us begin with the Panna Cota…
Kentucky Bourbon Panna Cotta
inspired from Blackbird Restaurant, Chicago IL.
5 ounces whole milk
5 ounces heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon water, warm
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons bourbon
In a medium saucepan heat the milk, cream, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Dissolve gelatin in warm water then add to saucepan with milk and cream. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Remove pan from heat, stir in vanilla and bourbon.
Pour into 4 molds and place in the refrigerator to chill.
While our Panna Cotta is chilling we’ll get started on our candied pine nuts.
Candied Pine Nuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a small non-stick pan combine sugar, water, and salt. Stir over medium heat until dissolved.
Place pine nuts in a heat proof bowl. Pour syrup over pine nuts and stir to combine.
Pour over syrup over nuts and stir until completely coated.
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
Transfer nuts to prepared baking sheet with a slotted spoon and discard syrup.
Roast in single layer in middle of oven stirring occasionally until golden brown. Approximately 10-12 minutes.
Note: Keep an eye on them, they burn easily.
Spread nuts in 1 layer on silicone mat or another sheet of foil sprayed with cooking spray and cool completely.
Break apart any nuts that are stuck together.
Now for the caramelized apples, the original dessert called for Macoun Apples. I wasn’t able to get a hold of any so I went with one of my favorite apples, the oh so crisp and slightly tart Honey Crisp!
Caramelized Honey Crisp Apples
1 small honey crisp apple
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon butter
Peel, core and slice the apple.
In a bowl toss the apple slices with the lime juice.
Combine sugar and water in a medium non-stick sauté pan.
Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once sugar begins to caramelize add butter and apple slices.
Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer apple slices onto a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat to cool and reserve syrup for drizzling sauce.
On to the sauce… In Chef Fahy’s dessert arsenal was 1 squeeze bottle full of an amazing sauce to top the panna cottas. We were so busy that night I forgot to ask what was in the sauce. So, I was left at the mercy of my ingenuity and thriftiness to come up with a sauce for you.
reserved caramelized apple syrup
1 tablespoon kentucky bourbon
Add bourbon to the reserved apple syrup still in the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 3 minutes.
Chef Fahy topped his panna cottas with some delicate micro sorrel. Again, not having any on hand I came up with this… yes, Fried Sage Leaves. They added beautiful color, taste, an texture to this dessert.
Fried Sage Leaf Garnish
8 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup oil
Chiffonade 4 sage leaves. (Cut into long thin strips) Reserve remaining 4 whole leaves.
Heat oil in a sauté pan. Once oil is hot, quickly fry whole sage leaves one at a time and transfer to a paper towel to drain, then fry the sage chiffonade and transfer to the paper towel.
Garnish as pictured above and drizzle with sauce
Note: There was one component of this dessert which I didn’t make, some yummy tart candies with a liquid center. I had no idea where to begin with that one… c’est la vie.